China: Chengdu - Chinese Language and Culture

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Study abroad in Chengdu, China with USAC! Home of the Panda, and known as "China's China", Chengdu is a destination rich in culture. It is one of the best settings to learn Mandarin Chinese and to experience the Chinese culture and its people.

Students will have the choice of taking an intensive Chinese language program, or taking other various electives revolving around Chinese food, culture, history and more, along with an introductory Chinese language course.

  • Choose from multiple levels of Mandarin Chinese—an increasingly important language in today’s global society
  • Visit the home of the panda, the international symbol of Chinese friendship and goodwill
  • Learn about Tibetan culture and history in the Gateway to Tibet
  • Sample spicy Sichuan food and traditional “hot pots”
  • Enjoy picturesque field trips to mountains, rivers and waterfalls

Questions & Answers

Yes it was possible to practice mandarin with the locals. You'll be doing it everyday 😂
Hi Kelli, if you're looking for some general information on the optional tours you can email us at [email protected] and we can put you in touch with the program advisor. They may also be able to put you in touch with a student that has done the optional tours. Thank you!


based on 9 reviews
  • Academics 8.8
  • Support 9.6
  • Fun 9.1
  • Housing 8.2
  • Safety 8.7
Showing 1 - 9 of 9
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At Least Try

This was my first experience going abroad and let me tell you: it was AWESOME!! I really enjoyed my experience in China. Originally I was only suppose to be there for one semester but I decided to extend my stay for another semester and one summer session. I knew an opportunity like this and it being so cheap is real especially after graduating college so, I was like "let me stay here a little longer". Anyways, because this was my first time abroad I had was nervous the whole time such as the flight, the host city, the people and just in general. But it's quite normal and to the future students thinking about doing this program: It's normal and you'll be fine, trust me.

Cultural shock is a thing. When I first arrive in Chengdu, China I could already tell this isn't like the United States. The locals lifestyles, outlook, and etc is completely different from what I'm used to and not gonna lie, it took awhile to get used to. But this initial shock is completely normal, but I kept an open mind and try to see things from their perspectives and tried to keep my opinions to a minimum. I think to enjoy a foreign country like China which is completely different from the United States, one must keep an open mind and be willing to try anything. Because you never know, you'll might discover something about yourself.

Some advice I would give to future participants that are applying for this program and any other programs that'll be in China would be: just try it. Whether that be the food, a new hobby/place, going to China in general, JUST TRY IT! Research Research and more research!! I would definitely research about the city that you'll be going. Read other blogs written by students because they'll be able to give a proper experience beside the stereotypical information you'll might read online. Also, do some research about other places around your host city because you might (mostly likely lol) want to travel to other places. Download your VPN before you enter China because the app might be blocked. If you want to stay connected with your social media, definitely download it before you get behind the Great Firewall. Talk to the locals!! They know the best place to eat and best places to have fun! It's easy to stay with the people in the program which is fun and all but don't forget your in a different country and making friends with the locals can be very helpful. My last advice that I can think of right now would be to have fun. This is your experience and you want to make the most of it. The people you meet, the feelings you'll feel, the food that'll eat will be something you'll cherish. Because you want it to be something when you're older and you think about your college years, it something that sticks out.

Hopefully this was helpful! I'm pretty sure there are other things I could've mentioned but I just can't think of it right now. But to anyone that is reading this, hopefully it'll encourage you to travel abroad either to China or anywhere else you're going!

Yes, I recommend this program

Summer in the Red Giant

Spending my summer studying in Chengdu was one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. The USAC program leaders made sure that students knew exactly what they were getting into and made sure students were always prepared to handle situations that arise. The education I received was tremendous and my instructors were great. All of the field trips were incredibly fun and relevant, but the best part of Chengdu was exploring the city and trying all sorts of Sichuan cuisine. Overall I would highly recommend this program to anyone with an interest in China or Chinese.

Yes, I recommend this program
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I soooooooooo enjoyed my time in Chengdu with the USAC Program there. Not only did I learn so much, but I felt safe, enjoyed the culture, and was able to explore the beautiful city of Chengdu. I also went up and awesome mountain too 😊!!! From trying the Tibetian tu do bao zi to the spicy Sichuan hua-jiao peppercorns, I enjoyed the many wonders. For those more adventurous, you can try duck tounge, scorpion, and even pigs blood cubes in a hot pot. Would also highly recomend making some local friends as they know all the in’s and out’s 😉

How can this program be improved?
It was wonderful. Keep doing what they are doing. I loved every part of it.
Yes, I recommend this program

USAC Chengdu

This was one of the best decisions I made throughout my entire college career. There was so many things to do and the perfect amount of support and freedom. The people there speak Sichuan dialect, which is a little different than standard Mandarin, but it's really fun to get to know the slang. The people there are also really relaxed, and the program site is in an area where there are a lot of Tibetan people, so you'll learn a little more about minorities in China and Tibetan culture/language.

How can this program be improved?
This program is perfect-- no improvements needed.
Yes, I recommend this program
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not for beginners

i signed up for this not knowing any chinese but wanting to learn. i signed up for beginner level chinese, but my classmates had all already studied for 2 years or more. they wanted an easy class load and grade (their words, not mine). unfortunately for me and the one other student that were the only low level students failed since the first BOOK was covered in the first week. since everyone else already knew the material. needless to say this failing grade derailed my financial aid and then prevented me from finishing my degree. only sign up for the beginner level if you have studied for two years or more or you will lose your financial aid and not graduate.

Response from USAC

Thank you for sharing your experience in Chengdu. We apologize that the language class was not what you expected. We do make the syllabus available to all students prior to studying abroad. I have passed your feedback to the proper department and they will assess the language classes in Chengdu. If you would like to provide additional feedback, we're happy to discuss further. You can email us at [email protected]

No, I don't recommend this program
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Fun in Panda City

How many times can someone say they touched and got a picture with a baby Panda? Only Chengdu can you have this chance. Where else besides Sichuan can you test the limits of your tolerance for spicy food? And where else besides China can you see people practicing Tai Chi on the corner of a busy street?

The Chengdu program taught me that I have the ability to integrate myself into a culture that is vastly different than my own. The staff in Chengdu is incredibly helpful and wants students to succeed. I was very appreciative of the huge amount of time and effort that they put into making sure students are comfortable, safe and happy. While in Chengdu I had the opportunity to teach English at a school not far from my host university. This opportunity was set up by Wentao, the resident director for the USAC program. I taught one on one classes with six students and enjoyed every minute I had with them.

Chengdu is a huge city, far larger than my hometown of Reno, Nevada. It was overwhelming at first to navigate my way around the many bus routes and subway routes I could take to get to where I needed to go. But I quickly learned that the host university, Southwest University for Nationalities, is perfectly located next to all the major bus routes so I never had trouble getting to where I needed to be.

China is unique in an uncountable number of ways. It is diverse, huge and exotic. But many things about China are also familiar, comfortable and welcoming. You can find anything you would ever need in a huge city like Chengdu. You can also find things you never knew you needed until you see it, like a necklace with your name engraved on a grain of rice.

Every day is a new adventure because so many things are new. The USAC program in Chengdu prepares you to set aside your hesitations and go for it, try something new and if you hate it, well you tried it and you can learn how to move on to something you will like.

Through the process of becoming self-sufficient and independent I realized that it is entirely possible to find my way in a huge city, despite being a small city girl. I became much more confident in myself during my program abroad and I am anxiously awaiting the day that I can return to continue where I left off.

How can this program be improved?
Well, the pollution was a big downfall, not that USAC or staff can do anything about it. But I would say that the program is structured in a way that allows students to get to know each other at their own pace, no one is forced into anything they don't want to do and so the program itself is as close to perfect as it can get.

The one thing I would change with the program is the language partner program. While it was great to meet with other students from Chinese universities, I did not feel that I was able to find a language partner that would adequately be able to help me improve my Chinese. I was lucky that many students who did not attend USAC related events approached me and offered to help me with my Chinese. My closest friend was someone who approached me outside of a convenience store. He offered to help me with my Chinese after we talked briefly about his experience spending two years in England.

I was very lucky to have him to help me with my Chinese language skills but not many other students were able to have that experience. So I would say that it would be great if at the very beginning of the program, in the first week or so, USAC students were able to meet with Chinese students and start developing those relationship right away.
Yes, I recommend this program
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China has my Heart!

I absolutely loved my trip to China. USAC was so helpful and the program challenged me to really learn the culture and go outside of my comfort zone! We had field trips to local cities and major cities throughout China and our program advisor and USAC interns always went the extra step to make sure we had everything that we needed. I would highly recommend traveling with USAC if you want to go abroad, whether to China or any other country!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Can Do in Chengdu

If you are thinking about traveling to China and specifically Chengdu, I would say you should rest assured that you will be greatly enriched by the USAC program. I spent the summer of 2013 in Chengdu and followed my session up with a visit to Beijing. The dorm and the classrooms are floors apart so you have access to everything you need in one site. The staff and faculty are all very helpful and are glad to share the experience with you. There is plenty of time for educational, cultural and personal enrichment and exploration. You get outstanding value for your currency and there are plenty of shops and dining near the campus. If you get home sick there are some restaurants that are near the campus that may comfort you with familiar dishes. Otherwise you will have plenty of dining choices to experience local cuisine. The field trips and activities they have planned are interesting and plentiful so that you can visit other points of interest outside the campus perimeters.

Yes, I recommend this program
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I love Chengdu!

USAC Chengdu was a great experience. I spent a summer term there and fell in love with the city and the language. Since going, I have decided to study abroad in China again, this time for a whole year, and without that experience in Chengdu in the summer I would not be where I am today in terms of knowing what I want to do career-wise.

I had taken 2 semesters of Mandarin before going and my Mandarin greatly improved while I was there. The downside is that the locals speak Sichuanhua which is difficult to understand and is a different dialect, so opportunities for speaking are still good, but be aware that other places (Beijing) would be better suited for the actual experience of speaking and practicing.

The classes were small. My Chinese class had 3 other students in it. You get a lot of attention, and Wentao Song, the director, is wonderful. One of my teachers, Jiangbo, was incredible and everyone loved him so much, we spent hours playing the "Mafia" card game and got to know him some more. Field trips were great- especialyl Emei Shan, where we got to hike up a mountain and see monkeys.

I would not trade this experience for anything. It was the best summer of my life.

Yes, I recommend this program


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USAC is a non-profit consortium of U.S. universities that collaborates to offer affordable, academic and authentic study abroad programs. There are abundant opportunities to immerse in the culture, history, and academics of other countries providing...